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Advice regarding the Spain portion of my trip

Advice regarding the Spain portion of my trip

Old Feb 10, 14, 2:39 pm
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Advice regarding the Spain portion of my trip

Hi all,

I'll be visiting Spain for 6 days as the last leg of my 3.5 week trip to Europe in March. I arrive in Barcelona (from Vienna) on March 26 in the early afternoon and plan on catching a FC Barcelona match that night. I have already been to Barcelona once before so I was looking to explore the rest of Spain over the next 5 days. Other than the fact that I absolutely need to be in either Madrid or Barcelona on the evening of March 31 to fly back to London, what destinations do you suggest I make a part of my itinerary? I know 5 days isn't much to work with but I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks!
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Old Feb 12, 14, 1:03 am
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Perhaps you need to provide more information before we can respond usefully.

Your interests, whether you're prepared to hire (rent) a car, do you prefer to immerse yourself at a destination or "hit and run" etc.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 1:37 am
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There are plenty of flights to London from the peninsula that aren't from MAD or BCN.

See AGP, GRX, ALC, BIO, LCG for places with direct avios redemptions (some are through IB avios and Vueling). VLC, OVD, SCQ, SVQ have EasyJet services. That's not even considering the Baleares.

So you definitely need to be more specific. The North is lovely, but is very much not "classic" Spain and is very green and generally wet. A lot of the stereotypical Spanish image is Andalucía if you are after more sun and a dryer climate.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 6:45 am
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Originally Posted by Seat64A View Post
Perhaps you need to provide more information before we can respond usefully.

Your interests, whether you're prepared to hire (rent) a car, do you prefer to immerse yourself at a destination or "hit and run" etc.
Originally Posted by LupineChemist View Post
There are plenty of flights to London from the peninsula that aren't from MAD or BCN.

See AGP, GRX, ALC, BIO, LCG for places with direct avios redemptions (some are through IB avios and Vueling). VLC, OVD, SCQ, SVQ have EasyJet services. That's not even considering the Baleares.

So you definitely need to be more specific. The North is lovely, but is very much not "classic" Spain and is very green and generally wet. A lot of the stereotypical Spanish image is Andalucía if you are after more sun and a dryer climate.
No car renting for me (not old enough). Trains only I'm more of a hit and run type of person, but I'm certainly not against spending my 5 days in one place.

In regard to flights, I have 15,000 Avios that I want to burn for a business class flight back to LHR for my flight home on the 1st. So either BA or IB are my options for flights.

My current idea is to spend the entire time in Madrid and incorporate a few day trips to Toledo, El Escorial, etc. Does that sound like a good plan? Do you guys consider any destinations in Spain to be must-sees?

Edit: Looks like Iberia requires my Iberia Plus account to be active 90 days before I can transfer BA Avios into the account. So that limits my flights to BA and accordingly to MAD and BCN.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by greenythebeast View Post
No car renting for me (not old enough). Trains only I'm more of a hit and run type of person, but I'm certainly not against spending my 5 days in one place.

In regard to flights, I have 15,000 Avios that I want to burn for a business class flight back to LHR for my flight home on the 1st. So either BA or IB are my options for flights.

My current idea is to spend the entire time in Madrid and incorporate a few day trips to Toledo, El Escorial, etc. Does that sound like a good plan? Do you guys consider any destinations in Spain to be must-sees?

Edit: Looks like Iberia requires my Iberia Plus account to be active 90 days before I can transfer BA Avios into the account. So that limits my flights to BA and accordingly to MAD and BCN.
My Iberia account is my main one as BA is just for random bookings that don't play nice through the IB website, so I couldn't tell you. It seems like a fine plan as there is plenty to do. El Escorial is nice, but it's kind of just the monastery. It's a decent day trip with Valle de los Caídos if you have a car in the future. For the time being, I would do Segovia in stead. Though depending what you want to do in the city, you may have time for everything.

Also, BA flies direct to London from Gibraltar (LHR), Malaga, Alicante (LGW) and Granada (LCY) is well if you want a more southern route.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 8:29 am
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Originally Posted by LupineChemist View Post
My Iberia account is my main one as BA is just for random bookings that don't play nice through the IB website, so I couldn't tell you. It seems like a fine plan as there is plenty to do. El Escorial is nice, but it's kind of just the monastery. It's a decent day trip with Valle de los Caídos if you have a car in the future. For the time being, I would do Segovia in stead. Though depending what you want to do in the city, you may have time for everything.

Also, BA flies direct to London from Gibraltar (LHR), Malaga, Alicante (LGW) and Granada (LCY) is well if you want a more southern route.
Unfortunately, there are no BA flights from Gibraltar, Malaga, or Alicante on March 31st. I think I'm just going to go the Madrid route at this point.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 12:28 pm
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The Alhambra palace in Granada is wonderful (as noted above, BA flies Granada-London City).

Seville has great Moorish architecture, too, but no BA flights.

Visiting only Madrid after leaving Barcelona is a good idea as you would get a feel for Spain's two rival cities.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 1:42 pm
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Plenty to do in and around Madrid, but Sevilla and Andalusia are fabulous. The AVE train from Madrid to Sevilla is fast and decently priced if booked in advance.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Seat64A View Post
The Alhambra palace in Granada is wonderful (as noted above, BA flies Granada-London City).

Seville has great Moorish architecture, too, but no BA flights.

Visiting only Madrid after leaving Barcelona is a good idea as you would get a feel for Spain's two rival cities.
Would visiting Sevilla (2.5 hours by train each way) or Granada (4.5 hours by train each way) be worth the trip as a day trip?
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Old Feb 12, 14, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by greenythebeast View Post
Would visiting Sevilla (2.5 hours by train each way) or Granada (4.5 hours by train each way) be worth the trip as a day trip?
Not really - both places are gems, and to do them justice you'd need a few days, I would think. Particularly Granada.

If you're based in Madrid for an extended period, Toledo is pretty much a must-do - it's a gorgeous old city filled with wonderful art. Sadly it's also rather filled with tourists, but them's the breaks.

Avila is a nice place to spend a more leisurely day. The old city walls are gorgeous.

Segovia, as has been mentioned, has some great stuff as well.

I guess if you've got five days for MAD and environs, you could do far worse than a couple of days in the city, a day trip to Toledo, and another day trip to Avila or Segovia.

For the day trips, you could also easily be back in MAD in time for dinner/nightlife as well, if you wanted to be.

Spain is one of those countries that you could spend a lifetime in and never see everything. I'd personally suggest picking a smaller number of places, really exploring them, and then going to other places on future trips.
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Old Feb 14, 14, 12:31 am
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Originally Posted by greenythebeast View Post
Would visiting Sevilla (2.5 hours by train each way) or Granada (4.5 hours by train each way) be worth the trip as a day trip?
I have visited Granada on day trips and think it is worthwhile so long as you simply mainly wish to see the Alhambra.

It is important to book an Alhambra visit online in advance. You would be able to collect your ticket from the machines on arrival. Remember that the time slot you choose refers to entry into the Nasrid palace and that you can gain entrance to the rest of the Alhambra well ahead of this if you want.

The Alhambra is one of the most beautiful places, architecturally speaking, that I have ever seen.
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Old Feb 14, 14, 12:49 am
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For a day trip to the south, I would recommend Córdoba. The Mezquita is definitely worth it, but I have done it a few times just driving through in a couple of hours. It's a very good snapshot into Andalucía in general and is on the AVE line to Seville. The old part of the city is quite small and you can easily explore it in a quick day.
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Old Feb 14, 14, 11:27 am
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Originally Posted by Seat64A View Post
I have visited Granada on day trips and think it is worthwhile so long as you simply mainly wish to see the Alhambra.

It is important to book an Alhambra visit online in advance. You would be able to collect your ticket from the machines on arrival. Remember that the time slot you choose refers to entry into the Nasrid palace and that you can gain entrance to the rest of the Alhambra well ahead of this if you want.

The Alhambra is one of the most beautiful places, architecturally speaking, that I have ever seen.
Earliest train from Madrid arrives in Granada at 1:30pm and the last train back leaves at 6:05pm. Is that enough time to visit the Alhambra? I figure I could set my entry time to be 2pm or 2:30 pm and have a couple of hours to explore.
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Old Feb 14, 14, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by greenythebeast View Post
Earliest train from Madrid arrives in Granada at 1:30pm and the last train back leaves at 6:05pm. Is that enough time to visit the Alhambra? I figure I could set my entry time to be 2pm or 2:30 pm and have a couple of hours to explore.
Tbh, the more that I think about it, if you're really interested in seeing the Alhambra (which is gorgeous) it might make more sense to spend more time in Granada than in Madrid. Perhaps do three days in Granada and the other two in MAD? That would give you more time to explore Granada, which has lots to offer, and you could still hit the highlights of Madrid in a couple of days.
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Old Feb 15, 14, 2:10 am
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Originally Posted by M60_to_LGA View Post
Tbh, the more that I think about it, if you're really interested in seeing the Alhambra (which is gorgeous) it might make more sense to spend more time in Granada than in Madrid. Perhaps do three days in Granada and the other two in MAD? That would give you more time to explore Granada, which has lots to offer, and you could still hit the highlights of Madrid in a couple of days.
Or go to Seville instead if you want similar Moorish architecture, a great cathedral and Carmen's tobacco factory....
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